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Fundamental Principles Relating to Emotional Health

Returning To Our Core Values

Before we discuss various personality ‘types’ and how their behaviours relate to emotional health, it is necessary to re-iterate the core principles that this website understands as being central to emotional health.  In understanding any issues relating to emotional wellbeing, it is believed that these issues are of primary concern, and only in light of the underlying issues, can one begin to understand how behaviours relate to wellbeing.



It is firstly proposed that human beings have two fundamental concerns that relate to our emotional health: 
  1.    Security
  2.    Affection


1) Security

It seems to me relatively uncontroversial to propose that human beings are concerned for their personal safety and security.  Typically concerns that might fall into this category are physical survival – including remaining healthy, having food to eat, having a home, having money to maintain payments for home and food, not being sick.  Fundamental to these concerns are two components: money and security of a home.  Political stability and safety from crime also fall into this category. 

2) Affection

Much of the thinking of this website draws on the work of John Bowlby and his Attachment Theory.  However, one important deviation from his theory is as follows.  Bowlby proposed that when a young animal feels under threat, her attachment system is activated.  This compels her to look to her primary attachment figure for comfort and support.  Typical attachment behaviours might include clinging to the attachment figure, crying, reaching out to the attachment figure, sucking the attachment figure.  If the animal feels comforted and supported and protected by the attachment figure, the attachment system is deactivated and the young animal may then attend to other desires and needs until such a time as she feels under threat again.

It is my feeling, having read much literature by Bowlby, that Bowlby has not represented fully the nature of the attachment system.   This website is hugely influenced by the work of Harry Stack Sullivan.  Sullivan proposed that we have two primary needs, one of which is that human beings possess a fundamental need to be esteemed highly and to gain the emotional approval of those to whom we are close.  In order for a young animal/human to feel happy and contented therefore, I propose that we must not only feel protected, but we must also feel esteemed, and accepted, and a strong sense of affection from those who are close to us.(1)  In line with Sullivan, I will propose that one of the primary contributors to emotional disruption is usually a sense that those with whom we have intimate relationship, harbour aggressive feelings towards us.  In such instances, we must live and attempt to deal with the knowledge that one of our fundamental and core needs (for affection and approval) in order for our emotional sanity to be sustained, will never be met.  This, it is proposed is a fundamental disruption to our emotional needs and as such, myriads of defences and ‘neurotic’ symptoms will typically manifest in an attempt to help us deal with the unceasing presses of pain that now exist. 

Click on the following title to be taken to the next page in this section:

Why is the 'Need for Approval' so Important?

1) Perhaps Bowby would have given this need, and the behaviours associated with it (which I propose would include crying clinging and typical behaviours associated with Bowlby’s attachment system) a different name.  I feel that this may well be a confusion if the behaviours associated with this sytem are largely similar to those associated with the need for comfort and support when the young animal feels under threat.